15 Essential Oils for Bronchitis That Actually Work

Do you suffer from serious cough, difficulty in breathing or chest congestion?

It might be bronchitis.

Bronchitis is a respiratory infection that causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes in the lungs [1, 2].

This condition can either be acute or chronic [2].

This means that it can either be a one-time thing, or a recurrent case.

In this article, we will discuss:

  • Types of bronchitis
  • How and why bronchitis occurs?
  • Symptoms of bronchitis
  • Conventional treatment of bronchitis
  • Essential oils for treating bronchitis
  • How to use essential oils for bronchitis?
  • Precautions and possible side effects

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the linings of the airway canals in the lungs. The most common symptom of bronchitis is coughing along with sputum.

Researchers say that about 5 percent of the population report to have bronchitis (2)

Studies also say that antibiotics have minimal effect on the treatment of bronchitis.

Types of Bronchitis

There are mainly two types of Bronchitis: acute and chronic (3).

  1. Acute bronchitis is of shorter duration for 2-3 days.
  2. Chronic bronchitis is the condition when a cough persists continuously with only a short period of relief for a few days.

How and why Bronchitis Occurs?

Influenza (Flu) Viruses causes acute bronchitis. In some cases, bacteria may also cause bronchitis.

Chronic bronchitis is mainly seen in smokers. Also if you expose yourself to pollution, dust, and smoke for a longer duration, you may have chronic bronchitis.

Symptoms of Bronchitis

The symptoms of bronchitis are many types and differ from one person to another and also on the severity.

Coughing is the most common symptom. (4)

Other symptoms that can occur during bronchitis are

The production of sputum which is mucous that forms when you are coughing.

If you don’t treat bronchitis in earlier stages, researchers say that it may result to cause pneumonia (5).

The good news is you can relieve these symptoms and treat this infection with the help of potent essential oils.

RELATED: 11 Quick-Acting Home Remedies for Pneumonia

15 Essential Oils for Bronchitis

Essential oils are organic oils which come from different part of different plants. You can extract these oils from the bark, root, flower, leaves, etc. of plants by distilling them.

These oils are very potent, and thus it helps in healing many conditions. Essential oils are especially used for respiratory relive and therefore are used for the treatment of many respiratory conditions like bronchitis (8).

There are many essential oils. Some of the most used essential oils are: Basil oil, Ajwain oil, Valerian oil, Tea tree oil, Rosemary oil, Rosewood oil, Star anise oil, Pine oil, Rose oil, Rosehip oil, parsley oil, orange oil, oregano oil, neem oil, moringa oil, lemon oil, lemongrass oil, jasmine oil, ginger oil, fenugreek oil, eucalyptus oil, fennel seed oil, Clove oil, coconut oil and cinnamon oil.

1. Lavender Oil

When it comes to stress and anxiety, lavender oil is always on top of the list of remedies.

Most people rely on this oil when the going gets tough, as it has been proven powerful in inducing relaxation.

It’s important to know, however, that it’s just one of the many things that this oil can do for you.

For those who are suffering from respiratory infections, lavender oil can also help.

In a Russian study conducted in 1990, patients with chronic bronchitis were asked to inhale lavender oil or other essential oils for four sessions, 30 minutes per session [3].

Results show that inhalation of lavender oil along with other essential oils proved to be effective in treating chronic bronchitis [3].

A 1997 study, meanwhile, reported of lavender oil’s antioxidant defense in patients suffering from this condition [4].

This was the outcome in this study, which involved 150 individual suffering from chronic bronchitis [4].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of lavender oil
  • 1 bowl of water

Recommended Directions:

  • Boil water in a pot.
  • Transfer to a bowl.
  • Add lavender oil to water.
  • Inhale steam.
  • Do this three to four times a day for one week.

RELATED: 11 Health Benefits of Lavender Oil That You Should Know

2. Thyme Oil

The use of thyme as a natural remedy dates back to thousands of years ago.

Folk healers used this herb to treat a wide variety of ailments including respiratory infections such as bronchitis and asthma [5].

A study featured in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology stated that thyme inhibited the production of nitric oxide, a substance that triggered the “pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases” [5].

Since bronchitis is an inflammatory disease, thyme helps by inhibiting the production of nitric oxide and other pro-inflammatory enzymes [5].

By toning down the swelling, it can help ease difficulty in breathing and chest congestion.

In a separate study involving guinea pigs as subjects, researchers discovered that thyme has relaxing effects on the respiratory tract [6].

It worked better than the placebo in reducing inflammation in the bronchial tubes [6].

Thus, it can alleviate different kinds of respiratory conditions [6].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of thyme oil
  • 1 clean cloth

Recommended Directions:

  • Pour thyme oil in the cloth.
  • Inhale the oil from the cloth.
  • Repeat as needed.

3. Black Pepper Oil

A plant native to India, black pepper has been recognized for its pharmacological benefits since the ancient times [7].

It has always been considered an excellent solution for sinusitis, fever, chest congestion, cold, asthma and other respiratory-related problems [7].

Experts have also found that it has strong antimicrobial activities that make it useful for infectious diseases [7].

Its oil extract is said to have inhibitory effects on Staphylococcus aureus, which is one of the bacterial strains that can cause bronchitis [7].

This should be the remedy that you should use if yours is a recurrent case, as this combats even those microbes that have developed resistance to antibiotics [7].

The alkaloid in black pepper called piperine is what’s responsible for this mode of action [7].

It gives quick-acting result since piperine is absorbed quickly in the intestinal barrier [7].

Black pepper oil resolves this respiratory problem by killing the source of infection.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of black pepper oil
  • Hot water

Recommended Directions:

  • Put hot water in a bowl.
  • Pour black pepper oil into the bowl.
  • Move your face closely to the bowl to inhale the steam.
  • Repeat several times a day until condition is treated.

4. Cinnamon Oil

Do you love using cinnamon in your desserts?

It has this sweet taste and rich aroma that makes anything you add it into even more irresistible.

Apart from sending your sweet tooth to heaven, you’ll love cinnamon even more when you find out that its oil extract form can efficiently relieve bronchitis.

Studies show that cinnamon has potent antimicrobial effects on respiratory pathogens that cause bronchitis like Streptococcus pneumoniae [8, 9].

Researchers from Tokyo reported that among the essential oils tested for antimicrobial properties, cinnamon was among the few with the strongest inhibitory effects against various bacterial strains [8].

They noted that the oil’s efficacy was at its highest when it is subjected to high vapor exposure for a short duration [8].

It also works on bacterial strains that have grown resistant to medications.

What You’ll Need:

  • 8 drops of cinnamon oil
  • 3 drops of thyme oil
  • Water

Recommended Directions:

  • Boil water in a pot.
  • Pour cinnamon oil and thyme oil to hot water.
  • Transfer to a bowl.
  • Take in the steam.
  • Repeat twice a day for one to two weeks.

5. Eucalyptus Oil

Originally cultivated in Australia but can now be found in many parts of the world, eucalyptus is highly valued for its therapeutic purposes [10].

When applied on the skin, it leaves a cooling and soothing sensation that relieves pain and discomfort [10].

When inhaled as a steam, it soothes the respiratory tract and eases breathing congestion.

This is why, it’s often used as a remedy for respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis, colds, and so on.

Research that can be found in the Clinical Microbiology and Infection pointed out that eucalyptus can also destroy various strains of Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae that can cause bronchitis [10].

It has broad spectrum antibacterial effects that make it work for numerous respiratory ailments.

It prevented the growth and formation of infectious microorganisms before it causes serious harm to the respiratory tract [10].

Other studies show similar findings regarding eucalyptus oil’s antimicrobial properties [11, 12].

Take note that it also fights viral infections that can also afflict the respiratory system.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of eucalyptus oil
  • 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine the two oils.
  • Apply a thin layer on chest and neck.
  • Inhale the smell.
  • Do this twice a day for one to two weeks.

RELATED: 9 Best Essential Oils for Asthma Attacks + (How to Use Them)

6. Peppermint Oil

Although different in aroma, peppermint is a lot like eucalyptus oil in that it also causes cooling effects whether applied topically or inhaled as a vapor.

It’s also helpful in alleviating respiratory tract disorders such as bronchitis.

This oil works in two ways in helping bronchitis sufferers.

First, it kills the bacteria causing the infection, as it is a proven antimicrobial against various human pathogens [13].

Turkish scientists reported that peppermint is highly active against S. pyogenes, S. pneumoniae, S. aureus, H. influenzae, K. pneumoniae and even viruses that cause respiratory tract infection [13].

This oil is effective in controlling the activities of these pathogens before they cause serious harm.

Second, it helps alleviate breathing difficulties and other symptoms with its anti-congestive and expectorant actions [14].

Researchers from Brazil investigated the

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of peppermint oil
  • 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine the two oils.
  • Apply a layer on your chest and neck.
  • Inhale the aroma while doing so.
  • Repeat three times a day for up to one week.

RELATED: 12 Uses and Health Benefits of Peppermint Oil

7. Frankincense Oil

Historically, frankincense has been an important part of many cultural and religious ceremonies [15].

Its medicinal value has also been widely recognized since the ancient times [15].

That’s because this oil is rich in active components such as monoterpenes, diterpenes, triterpenes, pentacyclic triterpenic acids and tetracyclic triterpenic acids [15].

Boswellic acid, in particular, works as a strong anti-inflammatory agent that inhibits pro-inflammatory enzymes such as 5-lipoxygenase [15].

It’s no wonder this oil is relied upon as a remedy for a vast array of health problems, including bronchitis, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and immunostimulatory properties [15, 16, 17].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of frankincense oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Pour oil in a cotton ball.
  • Place cotton ball on your pillow before sleeping.
  • Do this every night for five days.

8. Rosemary Oil

Don’t you just love the sweet aroma of rosemary oil, which immediately calms your mind and senses?

Rosemary oil is much loved not only for its wonderful scent but also for its health benefits.

For those who are suffering from bronchitis, rosemary oil can help by smoothening the respiratory tract muscles [18].

Scientists from the University of Amman in Jordan investigated the effects of rosemary oil on the smooth muscle of guinea pigs and rabbits with the use of isolated tracheal strips [18].

Histamine-induced contractions were reduced after exposure to the volatile oil of rosemary [18].

The relaxant effects of this oil extract have been proven in this study published in the Journal of Enthopharmacology [18].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of rosemary oil
  • Towel
  • 1 bowl of hot water

Recommended Directions:

  • Pour rosemary oil into a clean towel.
  • Smell the clean towel.
  • Do this several times a day for one to two weeks.
  • You may also pour rosemary oil in a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam.
  • Repeat procedure twice a day for up to two weeks.

9. Lemongrass Oil

Most people use lemongrass oil to repel insects like mosquitoes.

This is important as mosquitoes can sometimes carry deadly diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.

The chemicals in commercial insect repellents, meanwhile, can put you in harm’s way, which is why many prefer to go for the natural route.

Apart from keeping insects at bay, lemongrass oil can also be used to tone down bronchitis.

In a study that can be found in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, it was reported that lemongrass oil successfully inhibited the activities of pathogens that cause bronchitis [19].

One of these bacterial strains is Staphylococcus aureus [19].

It works by preventing the bacteria from growing, forming, and spreading to the other parts of the respiratory tract.

It also damages the bacteria’s cellular membranes enough to disrupt its activities.

It therefore makes sense to consider using this oil in the treatment of bronchitis as well as other respiratory problems.

What You’ll Need:

  • 10 drops of lemongrass oil
  • 2 drops of lavender oil
  • Water

Recommended Directions:

  • In a pot, bring water to a boil.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add the two oils.
  • Transfer contents to a bowl.
  • Lean closely to inhale the steam.
  • Repeat several times a day until symptoms subside.

10. Garlic Oil

It has been thousands of years since garlic’s therapeutic value was first discovered.

How many times have you heard of the story that garlic was used as ailment remedy by the laborers who built the pyramids in Egypt?

Today, it remains highly prized for its medicinal purposes, most of which have already been established in scientific literature.

For those who want to get relief from bronchitis, its oil extract can help.

Research has shown that garlic is a potent antimicrobial that works even on drug-resistant pathogens that infect the respiratory tract [20].

What You’ll Need:

  • 10 drops of garlic oil
  • Water

Recommended Directions:

  • Boil water in a pot.
  • Transfer hot water to a bowl.
  • Add garlic oil.
  • Inhale the steam.
  • Do this several times a day until you feel better.

11. Ginger Oil

There’s a long list of ailments that are said to be relieved by the use of ginger and its oil extract.

One of these is bronchitis.

A laboratory experiment published in the East African Medical Journal reports that ginger can successfully suppress the activities of microbes that cause infectious diseases [21].

Susceptible to its antimicrobial powers are bacterial strains that infect the respiratory tract [21].

Moreover, it is also confirmed as an anti-inflammatory agent, which means that it can tone down the swelling in the bronchial tubes and make it easier for you to breathe [22].

What You’ll Need:

  • 10 drops of ginger oil
  • Water

Recommended Directions:

  • Put water in a pot.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Transfer to a bowl.
  • Pour ginger oil into the water.
  • Take in the steam.
  • Use this remedy three to four times a day until condition clears.

RELATED: 10 Health Benefits of Ginger Oil That You Should Know About

12. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree is an entirely different plant from Tea; it is easily confused. You can use the tea tree leaves to extract the oil which has a sweet smell. It has extensive uses. Its anti-inflammatory properties help heal conditions like bronchitis.

Other conditions which you can treat with the help of tea tree oil are fungal infections, acne, lice, infection, sore throat, boils, ear infections, etc. (23)

What You’ll Need:

  • 1-2 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1 fresh towel

Recommended Directions:

  • Take 1-2 drops of essential oil in a towel.
  • Place the towel close to your nose.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Repeat it for several times.

RELATED: 12 Incredible Health Benefits of Tea Tree Oil (Backed by Evidence)

13. Oregano Oil

This oil is a very important essential oil. It is equally used by having it and by applying it.

It is mainly used for treating different respiratory conditions like asthma, breathing problem, cough, and cold. It is also used for treating cramps, sinusitis, flu fatigue, etc. (24)

There are no side effects of these essential oils, but a few situations where you should use it with caution, for example in pregnancy, you should not use the oil.

What You’ll Need:

  • 10 drops of oregano oil
  • 1 bowl of warm steamy water

Recommended Directions:

  • Take a big bowl and add steaming hot water to it.
  • Add a few drops of essential oils and mix well.
  • Cover your head with a towel.
  • Inhale the vapor that is formed.
  • Repeat it several times.

14. Clove Oil

This is an essential oil that has been used for thousands of years. It has soothing effects. It is used primarily for treating headaches, toothaches, bronchitis, a cough, the flu, etc. (25)

You can use clove as a flavoring agent, and it is a very important spice in South East Asian countries.

You can use it in bronchitis because it helps to cough up the sputum thus clearing the airways.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3-4 drops of clove oil
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Add a few drops essential oils in a base oil such as olive oil, for example, olive oil
  • Mix well.
  • Heat it slightly.
  • Massage it with the help of your figures.
  • Best when massaged over the chest and throat.

RELATED: 20 Essential Oils for Cough, Sore Throat and, Congestion

15. Orange Oil

Formation of orange oil occurs from the orange tree. You can use Orange oil in very minimal amounts for inhalation for the treatment of bronchitis. (27)

You should apply orange oil very carefully with precautions as it can cause skin irritation.

What You’ll Need:

  • 4-6 drops of orange oil
  • Warm water
  • Fresh towel

Recommended Directions:

  • Add the essential oil mix to some warm water.
  • Mix well.
  • Dip a towel into the water.
  • Use it to as a compress on the chest or head.


  • You should not eat or drink the oil in any form.
  • Infants and small children should not use the oil as it may irritate.
  • You should not use certain oils if you are pregnant because oils lie rosemary oil can cause premature delivery. (19)
  • Do not put essential oil into the eyes it may irritate.

Possible Side Effects

  • Certain essential oils are photosensitive and thus can cause severe skin rashes and burns.
  • If taken orally essential oils can cause serious health problems.
  • Allergies to essential oil, though rare can occur which may result in rashes, redness hives, etc.
  • If you are asthmatic, it is advisable not to use essential oils as it may exaggerate the symptoms and make the condition even more severe.

Bottom Line

Bronchitis can worsen if not treated immediately.

It can lead to a more serious respiratory tract infection if not given prompt attention.

Make use of natural remedies that work safely and effectively in killing the source of infection and alleviating the symptoms.

These essential oils will get to the bottom of the bronchitis problem while working to make you feel better.

Just see to it that you carefully follow the instructions when it comes to preparation and application.

RELATED: 10 Home Remedies for Bronchitis to Soothe Your Cough